Artwork by Alexander Young Jackson,  Landscape near Coppermine, N.W.T.

A.Y. Jackson
Landscape near Coppermine, N.W.T.

oil on board
signed lower right; signed, titled, dated “September 1959” and inscribed “Mary Leech/5 Mohawk Place/Kingston Ontario” on the reverse
10.5 x 13.5 in ( 26.7 x 34.3 cm )

Auction Estimate: $30,000.00$20,000.00 - $30,000.00

Price Realized $19,200.00
Sale date: May 30th 2024

Dominion Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Ontario
By descent to the present Private Collection, Kingston
A.Y. Jackson, "A Painter’s Country", Toronto, 1958, pages 135, 184
In 1928 A.Y. Jackson travelled north with Sir Frederick Banting, a fellow artist and medical doctor, to Great Slave Lake and Fort Resolution in the Northwest Territories. Jackson returned often, noting, “Every chance I get I go by plane up into the tundra, into the Barren Lands.... I’m perfectly happy to be put down with my pack up among these rivers and lakes, perhaps two or three hundred miles from the nearest human being.” Jackson returned to the Northwest Territories in September 1959, camping at Lac Rouvière and Bathurst Inlet, south of the Dismal Lakes and the Coppermine River, which flows through the tundra into the Arctic Ocean.

Jackson's artistry masterfully captures the grandeur and vibrancy of the northern landscape in "Landscape Near Coppermine, N.W.T.", intertwining moss-laden slopes, crimson flora, and spruce trees into a rich autumnal tapestry. His dynamic composition from this September 1959 trip mirrors the rolling hills and soft, blue sky above, evoking the abundant energy of the Far North's remarkable ecosystem. After these adventurous excursions, Jackson would return to his studio with sketches to be painted as larger canvases, sharing, “We, with our notes and sketches, hoped to give Canadians some idea of the strange beauty of our northern possessions”.

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Alexander Young Jackson
(1882 - 1974) Group of Seven, Canadian Group of Painters, OSA, RCA

Born in Montreal, Alexander Young Jackson left school at the age of twelve and began work at a Montreal printing firm. In 1906, he undertook art studies at the Art Institute in Chicago. The following year he enrolled at the Académie Julian where he studied under Jean Paul Laurens for six months, then he travelled to Italy with others where they visited galleries in Rome, Florence and Venice. They returned to France and Jackson went to the village of Episy with a fellow student named Porter with whom he had lived in Paris. Jackson found much to paint at Episy: old farms, rolling country, the canal where barges were towed by mules, and for the first time (in France) he lived with people close to the land.

He left France when his funds were low and returned to Canada in 1910 where the “clear crisp air and sharp shadows” of Sweetsburg, Quebec, became the subject of his canvas “Edge of the Maple Wood”. During this period his painting was strongly influenced by the Impressionists. Then the work of Canadian artists Cullen and Morrice led him further in the discoveries of snow and other elements of Canadian subject matter which were to become an integral part of his work throughout his life. After his return to Canada, Jackson took up residence in Montreal and made many sketching trips to the surrounding countryside. While at Emileville he received a letter from a J.E.H. MacDonald of Toronto who wanted to purchase his “Edge of the Maple Wood” on behalf of a third party, Lawren Harris. Jackson sold the picture and later met MacDonald in Toronto. In Toronto he also met, through MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley and other members of the Arts and Letters Club who were employed by the Grip Engraving Company as commercial artists. Jackson later went to Georgian Bay to sketch and was visited there by Dr. James MacCallum, a friend of Lawren Harris. MacCallum, who had a summer home at the Bay, offered Jackson a place to work in the ‘Studio Building’ which MacCallum and Lawren Harris were having built for Canadian artists in Toronto. In the meantime Jackson was invited to stay at MacCallum’s summer home. Jackson’s production was good; he did many sketches and a number of canvases, one being the “Maple in the Pine Woods” which was later to bring a storm of criticism at a Group of Seven exhibition.

On his return to Toronto, Jackson stayed at Lawren Harris’ studio in Toronto until the Studio Building was completed. There one day he was introduced to Tom Thomson who had accompanied Dr. MacCallum on a visit. Thomson was also an employee of the Grip Engraving Company. The two moved into the Studio Building in January 1914 and shared a studio. Thomson had soon inspired Jackson to visit Algonquin Park in February and March of 1914. Jackson also sketched that year with J.E.H. MacDonald and J.W. Beatty. In 1915, Jackson enlisted as a private in the 60th Battalion and after being wounded, returned later to the front as Lieutenant with Canadian War Records. As a war artist he created one of the finest collections of war paintings our nation possesses.

In 1919 he went to Algoma with J.E.H. MacDonald, Lawren Harris and Franz Johnston, making use of a railway box car as a studio which Harris had arranged. During that year, Jackson became a full member of the Royal Canadian Academy. On May 7th, 1920, the first exhibition of the Group of Seven opened at the Art Gallery of Toronto. The Group continued to exhibit until 1931. Each exhibition of the Group was met with great protest. In July of 1927 Jackson and Dr. Frederick Banting went north on the steamer ‘Beothic’ which had been chartered by the government to deliver supplies to the RCMP posts and to carry relief constables to the posts. They sketched at Pond Inlet, Devon Island, Ellesmere Island and other arctic locations. Jackson’s arctic sketches were exhibited at the Art Gallery of Toronto.

Jackson's great sense of adventure carried him from the east coast across Canada to the Rocky Mountains of the west. He made regular sketching trips to Quebec every spring and travelled to the far regions of Canada during the summer, including the Canadian Arctic. In the fall he would return to the Studio Building in Toronto (where he lived until 1955), spending the winters painting canvases. He continued this active lifestyle until he was in his eighties.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume II”, compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1979